MAPLEWOOD — CNN is the latest news outlet to focus on Maplewood farmer Chris Gibbs, whose guest editorial published by the Sidney Daily News, July 26, has brought widespread attention to western Ohio agriculture.
Gibbs was interviewed by Kate Bolduan during her 11 a.m. broadcast of “At This Hour,” Friday, Aug. 3.
The column, headlined, “Local farmer calls it as he sees it,” discussed Gibbs’s contention that a $12 billion bailout to be paid to American farmers by the Trump administration is “hush money.”
“Late (Thursday) afternoon, a producer out of Atlanta called. Would I be willing to come on the Kate Bolduan show? I said, ‘Sure,’” Gibbs told the Sidney Daily News, Friday.
The network used Skype technology to put Gibbs on the screen with Bolduan. He had not received prior indication of what Bolduan’s questions would be.
“The only set-up I had was her 15-second set-up of the piece. It wasn’t edited. It was flat out live,” Gibbs said.
During the more than six-minute segment, Bolduan referenced the Sidney Daily News and the guest column and ran a screen shot of part of it. She also told viewers that she was linking the Sidney Daily News website to her Twitter feed, which she did.
The television appearance for Gibbs came after a video interview with the New York Times, Wednesday, and the reference to his column earlier in the week by writers who posted on news outlets online, including The Hill, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Week, the Guardians of Democracy, HillReporter.com and Instafeedz.com.
Gibbs said that during the CNN interview, he couldn’t see Bolduan.
“I talked to a blank computer screen,” he said. She asked him what the recently imposed tariffs and resultant trade war have meant to him and other farmers. Gibbs, who grows soybeans, corn and hay and raises cattle, talked about the 20 percent drop in soybean futures prices that has happened since May.
When she quoted President Donald Trump’s saying that tariffs might cause difficult circumstances, but American farmers could “take it,” Gibbs answered, “I can take it, but I don’t have to be quiet about it.”
Jill Smith, organization director of the Ohio Farm Bureau serving Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties, appreciates the attention Gibbs’s response to the trade war has brought to agriculture and farmers.
“In general, I think it’s good when farmers are willing to speak out and tell their story. We have to tell our story, because no one else will. I think it’s great that our story is being told,” she said.
Gibbs has put a spotlight on efforts that the farming industry made beginning in the 1980s to establish relationships with international trading partners. It’s those relationships that he fears have been lost in the current trade war. And it’s those relationships, he told Bolduan, that growers rely on when markets soften because there’s a bumper crop. Soybean producers have a bumper crop this year.
Smith realizes that most television viewers wouldn’t see the importance of things like that.
“Because we’re four generations removed from the farm, there’s a lot of folks who don’t understand agriculture and the life we live, so it’s always good for folks who don’t live in our world to understand,” she said.
Smith remained neutral concerning Gibbs’s attack on the bailout proposal.
“We’re appreciative of the president’s efforts to help us get through the difficult time, but we want the trade issues to be resolved so we can get back to a market-based system for our products,” she said.
Gibbs has said often that he hopes the fears he wrote about in his column don’t come to fruition.
“I would love to be wrong,” he said.
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